Wendy's and Google Cloud announced an expanded partnership to pilot an artificial intelligence (AI) solution,Wendy's FreshAI. The technology has the potential to transform Wendy's drive-thru food ordering experience with Google Cloud's generative AI and large language models (LLMs) technology.
Demand for Drive-Thru
With 75 to 80 percent of Wendy's customers choosing the drive-thru as their preferred ordering channel, delivering a seamless ordering experience using AI automation can be difficult due to the complexities of menu options, special requests, and ambient noise. For example, because customers can fully customize their orders and food is prepared when ordered at Wendy's, this presents billions of possible order combinations available on the Wendy's menu, leaving room for miscommunication or incorrect orders. Google Cloud's generative AI capabilities can now bring a new automated ordering experience to the drive-thru that is intended to enhance the experience that customers, employees and franchisees expect from Wendy's. As HT reported last month, one Wendy's franchise, Wenspoke, is expanding its use of AI in the drive-thrus.
"Wendy's introduced the first modern pick-up window in the industry more than 50 years ago, and we're thrilled to continue our work with Google Cloud to bring a new wave of innovation to the drive-thru experience," said Todd Penegor, President and CEO of the Dublin, Ohio-based QSR. "Google Cloud's generative AI technology creates a huge opportunity for us to deliver a truly differentiated, faster and frictionless experience for our customers, and allows our employees to continue focusing on making great food and building relationships with fans that keep them coming back time and again."
Pilot Near HQ
In June, Wendy's plans to launch its first pilot of Google Cloud's AI technology in a Columbus, Ohio-area, Company-operated restaurant, using those learnings to inform future expansions to more Wendy's drive-thrus. The pilot will include new generative AI offerings, such as Vertex AI and more, to have conversations with customers, the ability to understand made-to-order requests and generate responses to frequently asked questions.
This will all be powered by Google's foundational LLMs that have the data from Wendy's menu, established business rules and logic for conversation guardrails, and integration with restaurant hardware and the Point of Sale system. By leveraging generative AI, Wendy's seeks to take the complexity out of the ordering process so employees can focus on serving up fast, fresh-made, quality food and exceptional service.
Today's update builds upon Google Cloud's and Wendy's long standing partnership to enhance the Wendy's restaurant experience. Since 2021, Wendy's has leveraged Google Cloud's data analytics, AI, machine learning (ML), and hybrid cloud tools to make it faster, easier, and more convenient for customers to access the brand.
Denny's Launches Series of National Wellness, Mental Health Summits
As part of a national effort to raise awareness and offer expert insights, Denny's is kicking off a series of summits focused on how companies and individuals can better manage and improve their mental health and wellness.
The first summit is taking place on April 22 at the HPAC Theater in Spartanburg, S.C. The summit will be free to the public and attendees can participate in-person or virtually.
"Denny's has always been committed to feeding people's bodies, minds, and souls, and this summit series perfectly aligns with our holistic approach to wellness," said Kelli Valade, CEO of Denny's. "The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the topics of mental health and personal well-being front and center. Now is the time to think about how we can bring our whole selves to all facets of our lives, including the workplace."
The summit keynote speaker is Dr. Daniel E. Dawes, Senior Vice President for Global Health and Executive Director of the Institute of Global Health Equity at Meharry Medical College. Dawes will discuss the importance of addressing mental health equity and the path forward to achieving a healthier society. Other nationally recognized panelists include:
Dr. Shaneeta Johnson, a surgeon, clinician, educator, and researcher at Morehouse School of Medicine and Senior Fellow in Global Health Equity at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute
Dr. Monique May, a board-certified and licensed family physician best known as the "Physician in the Kitchen"
Dr. Bennie L. Harris, Chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate
Sharon Lykins, Denny's Vice President of Product Innovation
"Mental health and wellness significantly impact the quality of life of individuals, families, and communities across the Upstate region and beyond," said USC Upstate Chancellor, Bennie L. Harris, Ph.D. "We are thrilled to join forces with a global leader like Denny's to address one of the most critical public health issues of our time."
Journalist Roland S. Martin will moderate two panels, "Mindful Eating," which will address the connection between food and wellness, and "Wellness at the Workplace," which focuses on mental health at work.
A second mental health summit will be offered on October 10 in Nashville, Tennessee.
TGI Fridays today unveiled its newly reimagined Fridays Rewards loyalty program, helping guests enjoy their Fridays' favorites more frequently, for less.
The revamped Fridays Rewards program streamlines the restaurant loyalty experience, making it simpler for fans. With the free-to-join program, members are able to link with their cell phone number to automatically earn a point for every dollar spent – no app download required.
"We want to give our fans more opportunities to enjoy those Fridays feels each and every day at our restaurants. The new Fridays Rewards program is our way of showing appreciation to our loyal guests and offering them more flexibility in what menu items they can enjoy on us," shared Lindsay Eichten, Director of Loyalty, CRM, and Paid Media at TGI Fridays, and HT's Top Women in Restaurant Technology Rising Star Award Winner. "With the revamped program, we are helping guests redeem rewards as often as possible, so they know they can always get a delicious deal and meal at Fridays."
As fans accumulate points, they have the flexibility to curate how they redeem them across two reward tiers.
How it works
75 Points: Score any appetizer, kid's meal, nonalcoholic beverage, or dessert for free
150 points: Score any entrée for free
To celebrate the launch of the refreshed program, TGI Fridays is helping guests earn their first free reward even faster. Any guest who makes a purchase between May 12 and June 12 will receive 150 bonus points – enough to enjoy a free entrée on their next visit.
The new Fridays Rewards also brings diners more everyday rewards, including either free chips & salsa or $3 off any appetizer, once per day, every day. For even more savings, the program will offer members personalized monthly offers that help them accumulate points faster.
Boostly Introduces AI-Driven Content, Listings for Direct Booking Websites via ChatGPT Integration
Boostly has become the first website design agency to directly embed ChatGPT into its direct booking websites.
The groundbreaking integration allows property managers to access a powerful AI-powered language model directly within the back end of their Boostly website, enabling them to effortlessly generate high-quality and SEO-optimized content.
Property managers can instruct the AI tool to create detailed property listings, tailored blog posts, and branded website copy, saving crucial resources and empowering property managers to enhance their direct booking strategy in minutes.
The integration comes as part of the launch of Boostly 3.0, the website design agency’s latest platform release, which features a number of updates including the capability to integrate multiple property management systems into one single website, and a Zapier integration that enables property managers to automate email marketing campaigns.
This announcement arrives during an impressive growth phase for the direct booking specialist, which is now generating an average of £39.2k per website for its customers and recently won the Best Web and App Solution Award at The Shortyz Awards 2023.
Mark Simpson, Founder of Boostly, said: "A common pain point we see again and again at Boostly is property managers who don’t have extensive writing or marketing experience, yet want to write website and listing copy that converts. This integration represents a major step forward for our customers, as they can now leverage the power of AI to create content that drives direct bookings and maximizes revenue.
“Our goal has always been to provide the most effective and user-friendly website solutions for property managers, and embedding ChatGPT is a significant milestone in that effort.”
Launched in 2016, Boostly is the only company globally that offers direct booking website design and online training for property owners and managers. The direct booking powerhouse provides online training, content creation, WordPress website design and CPD-accredited marketing services to thousands of businesses worldwide.
Canary Technologies and Maestro Partner To Bring Digital Guest Management Solutions to Hoteliers
Canary Technologies, a guest-management system, is integrating with Maestro PMS to provide hoteliers the tools they need to meet evolving guest needs and operational challenges.
This joint effort provides a 2-way integration between systems and puts the power of Canary’s Guest Management solutions like Check-In, Checkout, Upselling, Guest Messaging, Digital Tipping, and Digital Authorizations directly into the hands of Maestro’s property-management system customers. Thanks to this new partnership, hoteliers that rely on Maestro PMS can now boost revenue, improve the guest experience and increase staff efficiency with Canary.
“Digitizing the guest journey requires new and innovative approaches, and we’re proud to join Maestro PMS in an effort to support hotel operations and help hoteliers provide better guest experiences,” said Harman Singh Narula, Co-Founder of Canary Technologies. “Efficiency and adaptability are important advantages in today’s business environment for hotels, and this partnership will provide new ways for hoteliers to advance their competitiveness in the resurging post-pandemic travel era.”
“Maestro PMS is proud to name Canary Technologies our newest integration partner,” said Warren Dehan, Maestro president. “In today’s new normal, it’s critical that technologists find new ways to work together and help hoteliers deliver frictionless and memorable experiences that keep guests coming back. That starts by making hospitality jobs attractive once again to employees, and giving staff the digital tools they need to communicate more effectively with management, guests and each other. Together with Canary Technologies, Maestro is creating a more enjoyable and productive work environment while making hotel operations more streamlined, efficient, and fun.”
Agilysys Debuts Spa Software at the 2023 ISPA Conference
With demand for spa services outpacing resources available to deliver them, it is increasingly vital for spa operators to optimize how they align staff and service reservations to optimize revenue and profit per time booked.
Agilysys Spa, a next-era cloud-native spa solution debuting from Agilysys (Nasdaq: AGYS) at the 2023 ISPA Conference at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas May 9 – 11, features capabilities that equip spa operators to continuously optimize how they accept and manage reservations based on financial outcomes as well as guest and staff satisfaction.
“Agilysys Spa is the result of close collaboration between the former ResortSuite team and the spa team at Agilysys,” said Frank Pitsikalis, founder and former Chief Executive Officer for ResortSuite, which Agilysys acquired in 2022. Pitsikalis now serves on Agilysys’ leadership team as vice president, product strategy, hotels.
Pitsikalis continued, “At last year’s ISPA we helped customers and prospects understand what ResortSuite’s recent acquisition by Agilysys would bring to the industry. This year, we are demonstrating in Agilysys Spa the tangible advantages of our teams becoming one. The 2022 ISPA U.S. Spa Industry Study, which is the most current published research, estimates more than 45,000 spa-related job vacancies across the United States, making it essential to leverage smart technology to optimize decisions regarding which services to offer at which times based on historical trends, near-real-time demand and capacity constraints. Adding intelligence on hotel occupancy patterns by guest volume and by guest persona further strengthens decision intelligence. That is a key advantage we deliver in Agilysys Spa.”
In Booth #816 Agilysys representatives will showcase Agilysys Spa capabilities, including:
Intelligent Spa Management thatuses data to help spa operators grow revenue based on yield-management insights that include real-time availability, optimized pricing and maximized therapist and treatment room utilization. The system equips operators to easily adjust appointments and minimize gaps across all booking channels.
Minimum Gap Allowance Protection to optimize capacity utilization and revenue when spas allow patrons to book reservations online. Smart resource management within Agilysys Spa ensures that reservation times, service types and skill profiles of available staff are intelligently coordinated to prevent gaps of unused time and unused staff service delivery capabilities. For online bookers, Agilysys Spa presents reservation choices only for ‘best use’ services and times based on historical and predictive intelligence that continuously aligns demand with capacity to optimize revenue across available time.
Multi-Experience Booking, which enables guests to book spa reservations as they book hotel reservations, from a common screen view in the same session without switching systems.
Mobile Convenience, empowering guests to check-in and check-out from spa services at their convenience using their mobile devices, as well as adjust appointments, complete intake information and purchase spa products.
Retail Revenue Optimization, which enables spa employees to easily add retail sales to the guest’s spa experience to extend treatment benefits and heighten positive customer experiences.
Seamless Guest Data through integration with property management system (PMS) solutions, including Agilysys PMS. Sharing guest information with PMS systems gives staff a more comprehensive view of each guest and their interactions across the property and over time so that offers and experiences can be personalized based on a deeper knowledge of guest preferences.
Pitsikalis, who also serves as ISPA Board Chairman, will share insights on optimizing spa earning potential as a speaker on the Pricing Strategies to Maximize Revenue panel from 8-9 a.m. PDT Wednesday, May 10. This learning opportunity will include insights into best practices and new strategies to maximize revenue and profit potential.
“Understanding the entire guest experience is vital to understanding how optimal spa operations can heighten Return on Experience for each guest personally,” said Pitsikalis. “Agilysys Spa delivers best-in-class performance for spa operations and delivers even deeper insights when connected seamlessly with other applications in the Agilysys end-to-end hospitality ecosystem or with solutions from other providers.”
Agilysys is proud to support ISPA and has a multi-year commitment to donate money toward the ISPA Foundation Mary Tabacchi Scholarship, awarded annually to a college or university student enrolled in spa management.